Wednesday, July 26, 2023
One of the gateways to Fairfax City is getting a major upgrade: Get ready for City Centre West. Arising at 10501 Main St., between Judicial Drive and West Street, will be an eight-story building with 210,029 square feet of residential, office and commercial uses.
A project of Ox Hill Realty, it’ll replace a former bank, an old office building and a burned-out restaurant that’s long been an eyesore. Following a public hearing and discussion, Fairfax City Council approved it during its July 11 meeting.
“We began this project nearly five years ago, and it’s truly a mix of uses,” said attorney Bob Brant, representing the applicant. “We designed a building that Fairfax can be proud of and will be a landmark for the City. And we expect it to bring in $1.4 million to $1.9 million to Fairfax City in annual tax revenue.”
Situated on 1.78 acres, City Centre West will feature 79, for-sale luxury condominiums and penthouses with amenities and a rooftop pool, 8,500 square feet of medical offices and 28,200 square feet of commercial-office space. There’ll also be a drive-through bank, ground-floor retail, a restaurant and a .31-acre pocket park/plaza.
This plaza will be a spot for outdoor dining and a space where people may gather for events. “Our open-space hub will be accessible to the public and connect to downtown Fairfax,” said Brant. As for the condos, he said, “We’re looking to attract empty nesters. The building will be elegant, special and unique – inspired by Old Town Fairfax, but also modern.”
The top six floors of the building will house the one-, two- and three-bedroom residential units, with the 18,000-square-foot bank and offices on the lower floors, and four levels of below-grade, structured parking (309 spaces) for all the uses. The spacious, high-end condos will have floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening to private balconies or terraces. Starting prices and square footage will be determined later. Groundbreaking is anticipated in March 2024, with project completion expected by spring 2026.
City Centre West will also incorporate sustainable design elements, including EV chargers, a green roof and LEED Silver and WELL certifications – promoting health and wellbeing. Internationally renowned, New York City-based designer, Thomas Juul-Hansen developed plans for the entire building, including the architecture, interior design and furniture, as well as the sleek and modern brick exterior.
The project also includes construction of a connector road and an East-West road. “It provides new connections to Main Street and to the Fairfax County Judicial Complex,” said Brant. In addition, Ox Hill will deliver a 10-foot-wide, landscaped sidewalk on Main Street. However, it’ll have to coordinate with the county, as well, since the proposed road and public plaza will be on county land.
Brant stressed that City Centre West implements the City’s Old Town Fairfax Small Area Plan, which calls for mixed uses. “Truist Bank and Infinite Technologies have already said they’ll move into that building,” he said. “Truist’s relocation from University Drive will retain 100 jobs, plus its tax revenue to the City.”
To build this project on the south side of Main Street, Ox Hill requested a rezoning from the site’s current commercial general and retail designation to commercial urban. It also sought special exceptions from Fairfax to construct a taller and more dense building than is currently approved in that area and for the bank to have a drive-through window.
And instead of including the five, City ordinance-required affordable dwelling units (ADUs) at 60 percent AMI (area median income) within the building, Ox Hill wants to provide them in a future offsite building. But the City ordinance doesn’t allow it.
During the public hearing, Douglas Stewart, with Fairfax City Citizens for Smarter Growth, said the applicant’s plan “provides many benefits to the City – including more residents to make Old Town a more vibrant place. But it also relies on the county’s cooperation, which we don’t know about, for sure, yet. So we’re therefore uncertain that there will be an open-space plaza. And they should build five ADUs in this building, not elsewhere.”
City business-owner Josh Alexander said, “I live, work and play here, and I want others to have this opportunity, too. Can we please move forward.”
However, said resident Matt Baird, “It’ll make traffic a lot worse. It’s a mixed-use monstrosity and completely disrespects the historic nature of Old Town Fairfax.”
But Jennifer Rose, executive director of the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, disagreed. “I served on the Old Town Visioning Committee, and the City’s 2020 Small Area Plan had similar goals, as does its Comprehensive Plan, encouraging a vibrant, mixed-use Old Town.
“What Ox Hill’s proposing is so much better than what’s there today, and more retail is good for the City. Fairfax County plans 10- and 13-story buildings, and this project will provide a good transition to Old Town.”
Tess Rollins, executive director of the Old Town Fairfax Business Assn., said, “We want Old Town to be a destination, not a drive-through. We don’t comment on individual projects, but look forward to working with Ox Hill, should this one be approved.”
Similarly, Stuart James, 38, said he and his family moved to Fairfax in 2019 and “love it here, but the businesses and restaurants need more foot traffic. It’s important to us, the young people, that this City and its downtown continue to grow. There’s a lot of us who want more options here, so I hope you can work through the problems and get this done.”
Noting the site is just a quarter-acre, Councilmember Tom Ross said, “It’s important it’s [developed] right. And the plaza will be a central point to bringing people together.” He also said a building this size will need “quality landscaping.”
Although Councilmember Jeff Greenfield wanted to defer decision on this project because he didn’t like the building’s look, his motion failed. Said Councilmember Jon Stehle: “We may quibble with the design, but it’ll be a huge addition to the City economically and in terms of what we want to see there.”
Council then approved the project and most of the special exceptions, 5-1, with Greenfield the lone “no” vote. However, at Ox Hill’s request, the ADU matter was deferred until Feb. 27, 2024.